Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Signs and symptoms

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You cannot tell by looking at someone if they have an eating disorder. But there are some behavioral clues that can alert you that someone is suffering. This list is by no means exhaustive; it is meant to highlight some “typical” clues that one might have AN, BN, or BED.

  • Constantly being "on a diet"
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Avoidance of social situations involving food
  • Obsession/preoccupation with food and body
  • Dramatic weight loss/gain
  • Excessive exercise
  • Dressing in layers or big/baggy clothes to conceal body
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom following meals
  • Eating negligible amounts of food
  • Hiding food/secretive behavior revolving around food
  • Excessive discussion of/research into eating disorders and dieting
  • Apathy
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Self-loathing, self-deprecation, self-recrimination

Screening Tests

The EAT-26 is the refinement of the EAT-40, originally published in 1979. With a publication date of 1982, it is a long-standing resource for self-reported symptoms and behaviors. This screening test is available online with anonymous feedback, or downloadable with self-scoring resources/guide

My Body Screening is a geographic-specific screening test (with information for local resources) is sponsored by National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and Screening for Mental Health (SMH).

This Screening Test is sponsored by NEDA and is completely anonymous.

by Catherine McNiff
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